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ATC 3D printing lab helps create uniquely designed equipment

Deputy Tommy Spencer using his mobile data terminal in vehicle

ATC Printing Lab facilitates Sheriff’s Cruiser Piece of equipment

      Wayne County Schools and local law enforcement continue to develop a strong bond through the school resource officer program. This winter, the Area Technology Center (ATC) has been able to provide a valuable service to the Sheriff’s Department by creating a piece of equipment for their cruisers.

      The state-of-the-art equipment and resources in the ATC are very valuable for school projects, but they are also important to the community. 

      The project came about when Sheriff Deputy Tommy Spencer, School Resource Officer, had searched for a printer mount for his mobile data terminal equipment that could accommodate his printer inside his vehicle. He had looked on line and determined there was no such thing. The printer had been sitting in the passenger seat and could get tossed around if the deputy had to make an abrupt stop. So, he was looking for some kind of mounting mechanism so it would be more stationary.

      Being a part of the Wayne County School campus, he was aware of the 3D printing lab at the new ATC, so he contacted the instructor, Marsha Bertram. “We put our heads together to make a mount for my small printer,” said Spencer.

       Spencer explained that the monitor and printer are very handy because he can print out accident reports, serve bench warrants, or do search warrants right from his vehicle. “It helps out a lot because we don’t have to go back to the office or have to issue a hand written citation. We can run people’s tags, for instance, on our mobile data terminal.”

        “This would have made a GREAT project for the students if they were here to design and print but COVID made that impossible. There is too much hands on work needed for this project.   Perhaps next year students can try to find a way to make the product a better more functional design,” explained Bertram.

        After some discussions and measurement, and four tries at printing – they had a printer holder that would attach to the car where the passenger headrest usually sits.  It had to be made in three pieces due to the size of the print beds and an attachment needed to be created.  Bertram collaborated with some of the other teachers at the ATC to determine what the best attachment method might be.  The middle piece can be adjusted and printed to conform to any law enforcement vehicle.  The two end pieces remain the same. 

     After printing the middle piece prototype and the two end pieces were designed and finalized – it was time to mass produce the order so all the department vehicles could benefit from the invention.

     One of the main challenges of creating the print holders to fit in the different police vehicles is that each type of vehicle has headrests that are different widths apart and for the printer holders to work, the measurements had to be exact for each of the four types of vehicles, or so they thought in the beginning.  Deputy Spencer started thinking about this problem and proposed a sliding track to hold the bolts which would hold the printers in place.  The bolts could then be moved to the correct width. This simplified the process a great deal in one way but caused a redesign of the side pieces as well.  Now there is a universal print holder which will work in all the law enforcement vehicles. 

      The teachers at the ATC are anxious to work on hands-on projects like this, once students return to in-person learning.  

Tommy Spencer uses his mobile data terminal to print out a document

Deputy Tommy Spencer uses his mobile data terminal to print out a document inside his vehicle

Printer mounted on headrest

Mobile printer mounted on headrest of passenger seat

Inserting paper in printer

Inserting paper in the printer


3D printers printing the pieces

Working to create the mount

One of the finished models of the two sides

Bot printer used to help produce the parts

Bot printer used to help produce the parts

Printing process underway

Printing process design on the monitor

Printing Process

Printing Process close up

Finished product in the lab

Finished product in the lab

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